Project management – what are those steps?

When I last wrote about project management I spoke about how to start organizing the steps in a project.  The real question is: how do you figure out what steps you need?

NEMT President Linda Allard

If you are lucky, you may be running a project that is in your department or field of expertise and you will know the steps.  But what if you are having to run a project that requires the expertise of individuals in other departments or even run a project that you don’t know anything about?  This can make getting started overwhelming.

Solid planning of your tasks (the steps) in the project will keep the project on target so you can’t skimp in this area even if you are unsure.  I have seen this happen to many project managers because they didn’t realize that they were unaware of all the steps and the project missed critical items that caused failures.

The big question is how do you know what you don’t know?

A simple way to start is by listing the major steps that you need for the project to be completed.  If you are moving your department to a new location you might list:

1. Check out new location.
2. Make adjustments to new location.
3. Pack old location.
4. Move to new location.

These are very basic steps but a base to start planning so you can figure out what steps you might not know you need.

Now let’s break the big steps down.

Here comes the time where you might not know everything yourself and you may need to bring in an expert from another area to help you.

Step 1 says “check out new location” and as the project manager you need to think about what are you checking the new location for.  Do you need special electrical items to be able to work?  Does it need cleaning?  Is there wireless Internet or do you have to plug into the Internet there?  If that is the case what about your computers – do they have all they need for the change?

Who would be the person (s) to ask for these steps?  For example, if  you are moving computers, you would ask your IT department to list all the steps they will need to take so they are able to successfully move your computers to the new location.

Now your list might now look like.

1. Check out new location.
     a. Speak with IT and arrange a site visit with them.
     b. Visit new site with IT.
2. Make adjustments to new location.
     a. Have Internet added to new location.
     b. Have 4 new phone connections put in.

Obviously there would be many more steps and what I have listed is a small example but the important part is to realize where you are the expert and where you need someone else to help you with the steps.   By starting with the big picture and breaking it down you will be able to see what areas you need help from others so you don’t miss that needed step that could potentially stop your project before it is completed.

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About Tara Courtland

Tara Courtland is the communications director at NEMT.
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